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U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Tom Carper, D-Del., introduced legislation today that would allow American citizens to give donations to the federal government intended for a specific purpose. The bill would also provide new oversight and reporting into how such donations are being used.

Currently, some government departments can only accept “general” donations from private citizens, without any conditions on how the funds are to be spent. The Donations for Our Nation’s Advancement, Transformation, and Enhancement (DONATE) Act would update the law to make sure that all executive departments can accept donations that come with instructions on how it should be spent by the department.  

“Taxpayers already give up a chunk of their paychecks in the form of taxes to the government, but people don’t normally feel like they get much of a say in how it is used,” Enzi said. “This legislation would allow Americans to donate money to a specific government project or department they would like to support. Including conditions when donating money to a school or non-profit is common — this would just allow it to happen at the federal level.”

“This bipartisan bill is a straightforward, good-government bill that would make it easier for taxpayers to donate charitable gifts to federal projects or programs of their choosing and, at the same time, create more transparency in the process,” said Carper. “This bill would also allow federal agencies to transfer unspent gift funds back to the Treasury Department to help reduce our growing deficit that is projected to near $900 billion this year. It’s a good example of how Democrats and Republicans can come together and push common sense solutions that ensure our government is working better for the American people. I thank Senator Enzi for working with me on this bill, and would urge our Senate colleagues to join us in this effort.”

The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to examine all gift funds, along with how each department manages such funds and how they are used in order to provide oversight of the donations. At the discretion of the department heads, unused funds would also be sent to the Department of the Treasury to reduce the deficit.